Home Page, Site Index, Search, Help

Go to Inaugural Power Players

Go to Inauguration '97

Go to National Section

Go to Home Page

Cuomo Ran Homelessness Group

By Sonya Ross
Associated Press Writer
Friday, December 20, 1996; 12:47 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Andrew Cuomo came here for a thankless task: coordinating federal policies on homelessness from an agency in the nether regions of the Clinton administration, standing in the shadow of a popular boss.

Cuomo came anyway, and he juggled his job as an assistant secretary under housing secretary Henry Cisneros with political duties. They ranged from helping Vice President Al Gore practice for his campaign debate to running the campaign of Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo -- and breaking the news the elder Cuomo had been voted out as New York governor.

It might have seemed like workaholism with no end in sight, but it was effective. Now, Andrew Cuomo has been nominated to take on the top job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Until now an assistant secretary at HUD, Cuomo, 38, said just last month that he wanted to go back to his native New York, where he had been talked about as a possible Democratic challenger in 1998 to Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.

Such a campaign, no doubt, would provide a shot at sweet revenge. D'Amato was a key player in the campaign of George Pataki, who defeated the elder Cuomo in 1994.

But Andrew Cuomo also had said he had some private sector opportunities that could keep him in Washington, where he has set up a comfortable life with his wife, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, and their twin daughters.

Cuomo's work at HUD was an outgrowth of HELP, or Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged, an effort he founded in New York. HELP is a private entity that provides temporary housing for the homeless and links them with other services ranging from drug treatment to alcohol training.

Cuomo, with the enthusiastic blessing of Cisneros, turned the idea into a "continuum of care" strategy that HUD now employs to move homeless people from the streets into interim housing, support services and then homes of their own.

During Cuomo's time at HUD, the agency has managed to hold off big decreases in budget allotments for the homeless. This year, homeless programs received $823 million, the same amount as last year, when Republicans in Congress considered wiping out the agency.

Cuomo is a graduate of Fordham University and Albany Law School. He worked as a special assistant to his father, a corporate attorney and a prosecutor in Manhattan before founding HELP in 1986.

© Copyright 1996 The Associated Press

Back to the top

Home Page, Site Index, Search, Help